The First-grade instructional program at Villa Maria Academy Lower School is committed to helping each…
1. What is your greatest memory from your days at Villa?
My greatest memory from my days at Villa was being a part of an April Fools’ Day prank with my teachers in fifth grade. Mrs. Wible and Mrs. Venziale picked up myself and a few other students early from the gym in the morning before the rest of our class arrived. They surprised us with Dunkin’ Donuts treats and told us we would be hiding from our class for some of the morning! I remember arriving fashionably late to the classroom carrying Dunkin’ Donuts and just thinking it was the absolute funniest moment.
2. Who were your closest friends at Villa?
My closest friend at Villa was Ashley Frankenfield and she is one of my best friends to this day!
3. What activities were you involved in during school (at Villa and outside of school–a job, volunteering, etc.)?
While at Villa, I participated in the volleyball and softball teams, performed in the drama club and dance team, volunteered at Camilla Hall, and served as the Religious Affairs Coordinator in eighth grade.
4. Which teacher/administrator/coach at Villa had the greatest impact on your life and why?
Mrs. A, one of my sixth grade teachers, had the greatest impact on my life and greatly influenced me in my decision to become a teacher. She had a contagious enthusiasm for what she taught, saw potential in each of her students, and never failed to make us laugh. Most of all, she instilled a confidence in me that allowed me to see the value in my own ideas. She was and still is the best!
5. What were your favorite classes?
My favorite classes were Spanish, Music, and English.
5. If you could go back to your eighth-grade self and give some advice, what would it be?
If I could give advice to my eighth-grade self, it would be to find joy and value in the person that God created you to be. God has paved a unique path for each of His children that serves a beautiful purpose, so do not rob yourself of joy by giving into comparison!
6. What advice do you have for our many students who plan to pursue a career as a teacher?
Be as patient with yourself as you are with your students. All worthwhile ambitions are accompanied by challenges, but the fruits of your work will be so valuable, especially in the lives of your students! Find something to love about each of your students and be compassionate towards their struggles both inside and outside of the classroom. Remember that you are not just teaching subjects, you are teaching children!
7. Do you keep in touch with any of your Villa classmates or teachers? Anyone you want to send a shout out to?
Yes, I want to give Ashley Frankenfield a shoutout as she continues to pursue a doctoral degree! I also want to give Señora Maria a shoutout for being the best and funniest Spanish teacher!
8. Tell our Villa Family about your life path since graduating from VMALS.
Since graduating from Villa, I have attended Immaculata University and graduated with a dual degree in General and Special Education with a minor in Theology. While in college, I was blessed with the chance to serve as an English teacher in Peru for two summers. During college, I also returned to Villa to volunteer with the girl’s volleyball team and worked at extended day!
I am currently pursuing a masters degree in Special Education through the Alliance of Catholic Education with St. Joseph’s University, and am preparing to graduate this summer 2021! I have also been teaching in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I am currently teaching and loving fourth grade!
9. Why did you decide on a career in teaching? What called you to devote yourself to educating in a low-income school in Philadelphia?
I chose to pursue a career in teaching because I wanted to have a genuine impact on the future. There are true blessings in this profession, such as being able to shape the minds of children and guide them in cultivating their God-given gifts. Seeing the wonder in the eyes of children as they learn is an absolute thrill to behold.
I specifically chose to become an educator in a low-income school in Philadelphia because I wanted to serve where there was a great need. While many children and families in these schools possess many financial/physical needs, the emotional and spiritual needs are just as great. Many students in these schools have experienced much brokenness in their families in addition to trauma, and need teachers that can offer stability and understanding.
10. Describe a day in your career. How do you help your students in addition to teaching?
As an educator, it is my responsibility to reach the diverse needs of each of my students. This goes beyond academics. Working towards an endorsement in Social/Emotional and Behavioral Wellness, I believe that each child needs to be seen as a whole person. This means providing them with the support, resources, and tools they need to regulate their emotions, and grow into positive members of their community. Most importantly it requires practicing an ethic of care within the classroom, in which all students feel loved, valued, safe, and accepted as they are.
11. What is most rewarding about your career and calling?
The most rewarding aspect of my calling as a teacher is being able to meet Jesus in each of my students. While at Villa, I remember reciting in our school pledge each day that “I believe that Jesus is present in each of my classmates…”. This still holds true for me today, specifically in the hearts of my students. I feel blessed to be able to form relationships with each of my students and journey with them as they discover their worth in the eyes of God, their gifts, and their unique purpose in God’s amazing plan.
12. What are the challenges you faced before COVID? How do you manage them? How has COVID impacted you and your students?
Before COVID, challenges that I faced as an educator in a low-income Philadelphia school are lack of student resources/materials, aggressive behaviors in students, food insecurity, and students who have experienced trauma/abuse. I manage these challenges mainly through the use of mindfulness activities which teach students how to regulate their emotions, communicate their needs appropriately, and cope in healthy ways. I also reach out to guidance counselors for my students that need specialized support.
COVID has impacted classrooms greatly. I currently teach two fourth grade classrooms due to students needing to be separated for social distancing. I switch between each classroom throughout the day. In addition to my two classrooms, I also have virtual students. During times when our classroom has been quarantined, some struggles include students not having technology at home or being home alone while family members are working. Despite the challenges, my students have been resilient and continue to express hope and positivity!
13. How did your time at VMALS influence your life?
My time at Villa influenced my life in more ways than I can count. I learned that being a true leader requires humility and means to give yourself fully to the service of others. I also recognized what a gift education truly is and the endless adventures it opens the door to.
14. Is there anything else you would like to share with our Villa Family of current families, alumnae, alumnae parents, faculty and staff?
I am grateful for the time I had at Villa because it forced me to grow as a person and played an integral role in forming me into who God has created me to be. My hope is for all students to recognize and appreciate the blessings they receive from their time at Villa!